Natural Law and Historicity: Burke and Niebuhr

Vigen Guroian, "Natural Law and Historicity: Burke and Niebuhr," Modern Age 25, no. 2 (June 1981).


Edmund Burke and Reinhold Niebuhr have not often been made the subjects of a comparative inquiry. Yet, for the inquisitive, there is to be found a broad and deep confluence of their ideas on politics and the moral life. And one of the most interesting areas of moral and ethical philosophy in which there is a convergence of thought in the writings of the great eighteenth century Whig statesman and of the towering figure of twentieth century American Protestant neo-orthodoxy is natural law. This topic is made all the more intriguing because of the conflicting conclusions reached by the respective interpreters of Burke and Niebuhr as to whether or not their subject, in fact, articulated natural law concepts.